In 2020, more Indigenous people have died as a direct result of their interactions with Canadian police forces. Most recently the deaths of Chantal Moore and Rodney Levi in New Brunswick, and Eisha Hudson, Jason Collins, and Stewart Kevin Andrews in Winnipeg have illustrated the tragic results of the systemic oppressions and discrimination within our social and justice systems.
Representing a community of faith which believes in the inherent worth and dignity of all, the Canadian Unitarian Council calls on the Government of Canada and the provincial and territorial governments to implement changes to policing to better protect racialized populations. Priority should be given to implementing existing recommendations, such as those of The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG), and to developing police approaches which are responsive, accountable, culturally appropriate, and anti-racist. We again urge the federal government to issue their plan to implement the recommendations within the MMIWG report.
We call on all police forces across the country to acknowledge systemic racism and its impact on the health and safety of Indigenous people who have interactions with police. We further call on all police forces to review and revise how they interact with Indigenous, Black and other racialized people, and with those with mental health and addiction issues, making de-escalation tactics the standard. Police forces, their leaders and individual officers must be held publicly accountable for their actions. Police forces, and their oversight bodies must actively work to diversify their members by increasing the representation of racialized communities in their ranks.
Further, we encourage Unitarian Universalists to contact their police forces and all levels of government to urge the enactment of these changes that are needed, and such as those recommended by the Ontario Human Rights Commission. None of us can afford to be silent any longer. The time for change is now.
~ From the CUC’s National Voice Team: UU Ministers of Canada President, Rev. Anne Barker; CUC Board President, Margaret Wanlin, and Executive Director, Vyda Ng
Read the statement and sample letter for political and police officials